Following her introduction at On-fac Yahoo group, I’ve been lucky enough to see the work of Laura Sommer’s team (“The guide to online participation“, PDF download here). It’s a primer for government workers who want to get started with involving citizens and civil society in their processes and decisions, born out of wide collaboration. And it cover all the bases: the reasons, the principles, the process, the evaluation. Plus, it has a lot of extremely sensible advice on how to handle that participation… which is nowhere near as simple as some may think.
In short, it’s a good, practical read for anybody interested in community building, especially if that community is oriented to producing something useful (communities of practice). And I dare say it’s an essential primer for e-government advocates and other public servants who want to open the windows and see what happens.
We always talk about the benefits of CoPs in organizations: silo-breaking, implication of customers and other members of your value chain… Well, the largest, most siloed, most isolated organization in every country is the public administration. Thousands of initiatives, from the UK to Spain to the US to New Zealand, prove that public servants are aware of this and trying to make the most of online engagement (inside and outside government) to change it. Some of those are arguably more advanced than anything corporations are doing, and that trend can only increase.
We’ll be watching and learning. Meanwhile, the Kiwi manual is a very good starting point.